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Last modified: 05 Jul 2021 3:50pm

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A first of its kind project for New Zealand has been doubled in a significant growth for the Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A second solar drying hall opened at the plant last week, effectively doubling its ability to process solid waste.

The initial solar drying hall, built in 2013, was the first of its kind in New Zealand providing an innovative solution using the natural climate to dry sludge, which is created as a by-product of the wastewater treatment process.

The new $6.9 million hall has been designed with the possibility to add a heating system in the future to supplement drying in the cooling months. This will further increase its performance and capacity.

The Council is aiming for the final product to be used as a biofuel to help power the plant.

The hall is a significant project for the plant as the district grows, Council Group Manager Infrastructure Murray Washington says.

“This a significant investment in increasing the capacity at Pines to ensure we are serving our residents well and ready for growth. It gives us flexibility for the future as we work towards further sustainability improvements at the site.”

The second solar hall was originally scheduled to be built in 2026/27, but the Council agreed in 2019 to bring the project forward.

The project has faced a number of challenges, starting just weeks into the work last year when the country went into the COVID-19 Level 4 Lockdown. Despite the lockdown and concerns about possible delays in bringing parts into the country from overseas including from Europe, the project has been completed with only the length of the lockdown as a delay.